Thursday, 25 March 2010

Time and motion mum

I have been thinking lot lately about how much time I do and do not get to myself during the day, where time goes, and how I should prioritise it. I do not give a fig for a tidy home, luckily, but I do need a hygienic one. I do not relish playing the stupid dinosaur game a million times in a row, but I know it is beneficial for the kids. I absolutely detest playdough ("here's another sausage mummy, look, look, LOOK" "You know what? Make something else") but I like it better than cleaning the loo and finding son's weird boy wee has corroded the fittings AGAIN. I am stuggling, in short, to balance the hygiene/ dutiful mother equation, as well as feeding them where necessary. And husband, of course. He gets the 30 minutes at the end of the day. Unless I have an episode of "Flashforward" to watch, now "Being Human" is ended.

So here, in the manner of the original time and motion pioneers, is my last 24 hours. They measured the units of time and motion in therbligs, the creation of Frank and Lilian Gilbreth, the original Industrial psychologists. I like that it is their surname backwards, with the TH treated as one letter. Maybe they were more fun than they sounded. Either way, you probably know them from "Cheaper by the Dozen" , made into a film. They were the parents with 12 children, who ran their house on industrially efficient means.

11.45: go to son's room, his "feet are peeking out" the duvet, a terrible thing he cannot rectify himself, apparently. Sleep.
12.50: Daughter needs me to fish dummy out from under the bed. (SEARCH)
1am: locate it. Spend 10 minutes persuading her it IS the ruddy yellow one. (FIND)
2.30am: Son is "all shivery" and needs some juice. Take temperature, sense he is bluffing post-illness the other day, and tell him to sleep. Listen to dramatic sighing of son from my room. (INSPECT)4am: Daughter is trapped with a leg through her headboard. Extricate her, sleep, sort of. (POSITION)
6am: Kids get up. I moan. 6-8 is a rush of feeding, dressing, washing, getting out appropriate toys for kids to distract them while I shower. Wave to husband as he gleefully leaves for work. (ASSEMBLE)
8-8.10 I shower, quickly, before entering son's room to confiscate toys which have now become weapons. Dry myself and dress haphazardly with whatever is to hand. (Normally, on a playgroup day I leave the house at 8.30 to get to playgroup, drop son off, take daughter to Toddler group, then pick him up and home for 12.30.)
8.10-9 I make a cup of tea and leave it to go cold while I deal with getting shoes on daughter who likes to say "no, I do it" when she manifestly cannot. Simple tasks take ages. Engage in debate with son as to hat wearing. Yes, it is sunnier but it is also cold. Put in a wash, sort out airing cupboard airing wash from yesterday into piles. Son, daughter, me, him, note: no ironing pile. (POSITION ASSEMBLE)
9-9.30 Kids go mental in garden. Daughter, who needs to get in, refuses the buggy. Son, who should walk, wants it. Long, pointless debate only solved by happy appearance of rubbish trucks which provide distraction. (TRANSPORT LOADED)
9.30-11: I visit post-office, grocers and bank for stuff to fill in, cook, and cry over. Kids buy bits of tat for 10p from charity shops, then lose them instantly. I retrace steps to get tat. Visit bakers, walk slowly home with both kids out the buggy, admiring every woodlouse, ladybird, and twig, and exclaiming "Mind that, it's dog-poo". (PRE_POSITION FOR NEXT OPERATION)
11-11.45: hang out washing. Cook kids lunch. We all watch the terrible "Go Diego Go" whilst eating. Brief silence. (RELEASE LOAD)
11.45-12.15: deal with the inevitable poo aftermath of lunch. Realise I too need the loo. do this with an audience of 2. "Do you need the paper yet mummy?" (RELEASE LOAD 2)
12.15- 12.45: wash up, chop veg for tea, hoover downstairs and mop up milk from floor, real culprit unknown, as both kids now have the talent to lie. (GRASP<>
12.45-1.15: relative peace, if mind numbing boredom, of reading the ladybird "Jack and the beanstalk" 4 times. No, I do not know how many real giants there were. No, Jack probably didn't kill them all. No, adults are tall, not giants. (UNAVOIDABLE DELAY)
1.15-2.30 Quality play with kids. This means playing with the toy cars and stupid fairy boot house. (UNAVOIDABLE DELAY)
2.30-3.45 (yes, that long) taking son round and round the local paths on his bike (recent aquistion, newly learned) pushing daughter on trike and saying "steer as well as pedal! No look out!" (GRASP HOLD POSITION)
3.45-4.30: cook kids tea, and husbands for later, and cake. (GRASP HOLD ASSEMBLE UNAVOIDABLE DELAY)
4.30-5: eating. Pleading to eat the vegetables. (UNAVOIDABLE DELAY)
5-6: chilling out playing games on pc, reading and playing terribly boring dinosaur board game and drawing. INSPECT
6-6.30 Pre bath, get in washing. Whilst kids are running around in the nude, fold and put washing in airing cupboard. Put away set of washing from the airing cupboard. Curse washing. Bath two kids. Argue for 15 mins about hair washing. I win by dint of being taller and armed with a bottle of water. SEARCH FIND SELECT GRASP POSITION INSPECT
6.30-7.15: thankfully dump kids in front of Cbeebies and wash up dinner stuff. Eye wine in fridge. PRE-POSITION FOR NEXT OPERATION
7.15-7.45: bedtime stories and plea bargaining. GRASP HOLD POSITION TRANSPORT UNLOADED
7.46: glass of wine and sewing. REST TO OVERCOME FATIGUE
Husband not in yet, likely to arrive home 30 mins before I go to bed tipsy at 10pm having unpicked the last bit of quilt.

There's not a lot of sitting down there, really. I sat down more teaching all day. And got to poo without an audience. What strikes me is that I am not very good at either side of the equation. The big housework has to wait for weekends, the kids never get undivided attention because a) there are two of them 15 months apart and b) I have to do maintenance cleaning almost perpetually to avoid being buried in debris and dying of disease. I do not understand how women iron as well as all this. How women managed in the days before washing machines (and well I remember my nan's twin tub and the sheer noise of it) and super hoovers I don't know. Maybe I sit and attempt to sew the kids mangled toys and quilts of an evening to show them I love them despite saying "hang on, i've just got to do this" so much. Maybe I should teach them to hoover.

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